April 7, 2005

Don't call it a comeback, Jeffreys' been in Europe for years
By Canyon Cody
Published in The Heights

When Garland Jeffreys decided to take some time off from his epic music career during the '90s, it was for all the right reasons: He was staying at home to help raise his young daughter with his wife. Now he's ready for a comeback and the music world needs him more than ever.

In fact, maybe it's just America that needs him, because the rest of the world has been enjoying Jeffreys' eclectic mix of rock, reggae, and soul for decades. Though he remains popular in Europe, most in America don't know his name.

There are a few exceptions - Bruce Springstein and Lou Reed are fans, friends, and occasional collaborators of Jeffreys. His music began with a distinct New York classic rock sound in the '70s and incorporated more soul, reggae and Latin music in the middle of his career.

For Jeffreys, these styles didn't come from outside influences, but from incorporating his own history into his music. Jeffreys is as diverse as his sound, growing up in a multi-racial family, part black, part white, part Puerto Rican, and part Native American. His lyrical content, like his musical style, reflects his diverse background.

Maybe now, 33 years after his self-titled debut album and 13 years since his last American release, Jeffreys is finally about to get the exposure his music deserves since recently signing with Universal.

Jeffreys, a true Rock 'n' Roll Adult (to use the title of his 1982 album) is busier than ever. He's out on a celebratory tour, which brings him back to Boston for the first time in 15 years. Jeffreys will perform in Somerville tomorrow night at Johnny D's Uptown with his full eight-piece band, The Coney Island Playboys.

Unfortunately, none of Jeffreys music from the '70s and '80s has been reissued on CD, other than his Wild in the Streets: Best of 1977-1983. This compilation features his reggae groove on "I May Not Be Your Kind," his exploration of interracial relationships.

Now 61 years old, but well-rested from his recent sabbatical, Jeffreys is ready to make a splash in a music scene long after most of his peers - Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Paul Simon, Lou Reed, and James Taylor - are getting ready for retirement.

Before it became a gimmick for Jay-Z and Linkin Park, mixing styles came naturally for Jeffreys. His body of work is diverse and expansive enough that any music fan will find something to fit their taste and his live show tomorrow promises to be a blast.

Don't miss Jeffreys tomorrow night or you might have to wait another 15 years for the next show.

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